Thursday, May 30, 2013

where under the smiles fair and pretty are teeth so very white

[22:43] PrincessLazyAss left the region.
I have no words.

For another gobsmacked-into-wordlessness concept, try this. Actually, no, I do have one word. And that word is whyyyyyyy.

The Brainpickings blog has tracked down Joss Whedon speaking the commencement address this year for Wesleyan College:
"What I'd like to say to all of you is that you are all going to die...You have, in fact, already begun to die. You look great. Don't get me wrong. And you are youth and beauty. You are at the physical peak. Your bodies have just gotten off the ski slope on the peak of growth, potential, and now comes the black diamond mogul run to the grave. And the weird thing is your body wants to die. On a cellular level, that's what it wants. And that's probably not what you want.

"I'm confronted by a great deal of grand and worthy ambition from this student body. You want to be a politician, a social worker. You want to be an artist. Your body's ambition: Mulch. Your body wants to make some babies and then go in the ground and fertilize things. That's it. And that seems like a bit of a contradiction. It doesn't seem fair. For one thing, we're telling you, 'Go out into the world!' exactly when your body is saying, 'Hey, let's bring it down a notch. Let's take it down.'

"And that's actually what I'd like to talk to you about. The contradiction between your body and your mind, between your mind and itself. I believe these contradictions and these tensions are the greatest gift that we have."
The entire speech is brilliant, but I, like Maria Popova, wanted to preserve this bit. Our aspirations are not ourselves. And that's okay. That makes it challenging. And challenges, as any creative type knows, make us think around our problems, adapt in new ways, and innovate. It's good to remember.

What else was I going to link today....Oh! That thing! That I missed. It was back in Aprille, but thankfully, there's a Tumblr devoted to reminding all of us that there is a Slow Art Day. But also, the first article on that site is of relevance, too--on the difficulty in museum curation now, as opposed to the past.

The reason this is becoming a difficulty is partly generational. Those before the age of massive advertising inculcation and iDevices ruling our lives think in different ways. The Slow Art Day site calls this the vertical/horizontal thinking split, but I don't think they're entirely accurate in that. Vertical thinking, as a term, simply means categorized thinking--logic over intuition, say, or analytical over creative. What they're trying to get across, I think, has less to do with analytical thinking versus imaginative thinking, and more to to with attention span in general.

The (several, now!) generations that were dosed with advertising growing up, that were given access to technology earlier and with greater ease than previous generations, we seem to be--at least, as a loosely defined set of groups--on average more cynical about motivations, more easily bored, and more likely to search for the next thing that goes bang than previous generations. We tend, as a loose class, to be more impatient with the world around us. And while these are not necessarily bad character traits to have, in art appreciation these can become a battleground all too easily. Between the curator and the viewer, that article states, there is now a wider gap than some curators are comfortable perceiving.
"If you go through the galleries in a museum now, more people are taking pictures than are actually looking."
--Sarah Suzuki
I really think that's part of the problem too--it's not just the shift in attention span, it also includes the adaptation to new technology. We see something we like, and most of us don't immediately think, "I'm going to look at this for a long time, and really ponder what it means to me". Instead, we point our iDevice's camera at whatever it is, tap a key and move on. We have, essentially, "saved" the experience, to be experienced later, when we have time.

Only for most of us, that time never comes, simply because there's so many experiences out there we're trying to condense. Add in the stress of employment itself and the struggle to maintain a social life, and we're now easily overwhelmed on top of everything.

I wonder if curation in Second Life suffers this same dilemma. Essentially, looking at art in Second Life means that we are no longer the ones taking the picture; we have, in a sense, become the picture. We are the image. And while many of us likely still do snap a pic and move on, I think some of us take that secondary space to reflect--at least a little--on what we're seeing. Because we exist in the same space as what we're seeing, essentially, in a way that even being in a museum may no longer give us (at least, in that sense of preservational experience).

There's an interesting article on Canada's Globe & Mail site that mentions the vibrative voice technique. The vibrator they're referring to, specifically, is the Siri, which is a pricy bit of sensual tech; how'ver, the reason why it's that one, specifically, is interesting. According to David Ley, the developer of the technique, not only does it relax the vocal cords better than vocal warm-up exercises, but, because that particular toy vibrates between 100 and 120 hertz (which is closely aligned to the vibration in human vocal cords), it enhances and strengthens that singer's vocal power overall.

He's also working on expanding his class series to include training physical therapists, who can then employ the technique on patients recovering from vocal cord damage, or surgery. I'm fascinated by where this concept is going to go from here.

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